Disney Is Celebrating Cinderella's 70th All Year Long!

Disney loves celebrating anniversaries for their animated princesses, especially when they hit a new decade. This year's princess of honor is Cinderella from the 1950 animated classic of the same name. Cinderella had a major impact on many people's childhoods, including my own. It was released before I was born and went back in the vault before I could obtain it on VHS, so I watched it for the first time on a copy that my uncle recorded for me from a Blockbuster rental, which I suppose was the '90s version of piracy. Of course, I was first in line to purchase it years later when it came out on Platinum Edition DVD. Though it was not my favorite version of this overexposed fairy tale, there were things that made this particular adaptation stand out from the many live-action adaptations released over the following years. Cinderella's dress transformation sequence is one of the most famous and beautiful pieces of animation ever made. I remember being enamored as a child by the many reflections of Cinderella that appeared in the soap bubbles whens she performed the song "Sing Sweet Nightingale." The success of the movie saved the studio at a time when Disney was near bankruptcy, so it's no wonder Cinderella's iconic castle is featured as the centerpiece of Walt Disney World.

With everything happening in the world right now, it will be difficult for Disney to hold a live event for Cinderella's 70th, but that doesn't mean we can't find other ways to celebrate. Earlier this year, Disney released a couple of limited edition designer dolls in commemoration of Cinderella's anniversary, including a gorgeous new interpretation of her work dress complete with lace and floral accents. They have been posting frequently about the movie on social media with fun viral videos such as this compilation of incredible transforming dresses, including a particularly creative one that transforms from a pumpkin dress into one inspired by Cinderella's royal coach. Though the theme parks are now closed, they offered several special Cinderella-themed treats to guests who attended earlier in the year such as cupcakes with glass slippers made of frosting. Just prior to the halt on Hollywood productions, Disney began to work on a spin-off of Cinderella called Godmothered for their new streaming service. Godmothered is a prequel to reveal that is said to reveal the origin story of Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. Even though it will likely be delayed, hopefully we won't have to wait too long after Cinderella's anniversary celebration to see it.

Cinderella is a timely example of how to remain calm and keep busy when you're stuck at home, even if you don't always get along well with your family. Like many of us right now, she was not allowed to leave the house but found plenty of ways to stay entertained long before her Fairy Godmother whisked her away to the ball. Cinderella's hobbies involved cooking, cleaning, and other chores for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, but she also made friends with the mice that scurried through her walls and sewed tiny clothes for them. She even designed own dress for the ball and tried to work on it before getting interrupted by her family, showing us that being home all the time does not necessarily mean we have all the time in the world. Cinderella was always on high alert, whether it was because of a mouse hiding in Anastasia's teacup or being locked in her room during a visit from the grand duke. Yet, she  maintained a gentle and compassionate resolve and refused to let it break her spirit. We can all learn something from this soft old-fashioned optimism.

Disney's animated Cinderella inspired several live-action adaptations over the course of the following 70 years. In 1957, seven years after the Disney movie, Rodgers and Hammerstein aired their now world-famous musical production of the fairy tale starring Julie Andrews. Forty years later, Disney did their own adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's version with a full cast of minority actors, featuring Brandy Norwood as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother. In 2015, Disney released a live-action remake of their own 1950 animated classic starring Lily James. Like Disney's other live-action remakes, the movie worked fine as its own but could not compare to the magic and wonder of the original. The movie also set a visual standard for Cinderella's famous ballgown. Even though the dress she wears to the prince's ball in the original fairy tale could be any color or style as long as it's fancier than what she was had on before, it became more common to portray Cinderella's dress in various shades of blue or silver after 1950. Most books that are adapted from the "Cinderella" fairy tale feature a girl in a light blue dress on their covers for this reason.

This could not be a better time to celebrate the story of a girl who fought adversity and remained hopeful in spite of all the negativity that surrounded her. Disney's 1950 Cinderella set a visual standard for the famous fairy tale character that has been adapted countless times since. Though Ilene Woods, who lended her voice to the animated princess in 1950, is no longer with us, her legacy is carried on by later "Cinderella" adaptations and women who contributed their voices to future Disney Princess incarnations. Four of these women--Jodi Benson, who played Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Paige O'Hara, who played Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Linda Larkin, who provided the speaking voice for Princess Jasmine, and Irene Bedard, who provided the speaking voice for Pocahontas--will host a royal Disney Princess Q&A on Zoom next Saturday, May 16th, to answer your questions about the legacies that their characters left behind. All ticket sales for the event go to Give Kids the World Village, a charity that Cinderella would have been sure to support if she were still with us today. I hope to see you there!


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